A row has broken out within the leading Conservative group on Cheshire West and Chester Council.

The Chronicle understands some members of the group are furious about the way a successor was found for deputy council leader Les Ford who will officially relinquish his post at Thursday night’s annual council meeting.

Critics of the Tory leadership claim they were not told Cllr Ford was stepping down until after nominations for his open position had closed at noon on Sunday.

As a result just one candidate, Cllr Eveleigh Moore Dutton, threw her hat into the ring and was subsequently selected.

Eveleigh Moore-Dutton
Eveleigh Moore-Dutton
 

However, a press release about Cllr Ford’s resignation was issued by council leader Mike Jones at 9.13am on Saturday.

At a fiery group meeting on Monday evening, detractors argued nominations should be extended and an alternative candidate, Cllr Neil Sullivan, was waiting in the wings. However, this option was rejected as the time for nominations had passed.

Ellesmere Port Tory councillor Gareth Anderson has tweeted furiously about the subject. After Monday’s meeting, the member for Ledsham and Manor wrote: “Stitch up. Brazen.”

In a series of earlier tweets, Cllr Anderson, a member of the so-called gang of four who were previously thrown out of the group but later readmitted, said: “I was elected to serve my residents on @Go_CheshireWest under the @conservatives banner. I did not stand for election to serve one man.

“I really cannot recall the last time I was this angry,” he added. “I think I need a paper bag to breathe into. #CalmGareth.”

Cllr Eveleigh Moore Dutton did not wish to comment on the row but says her selection as deputy must be confirmed by tomorrow night’s annual meeting and insisted she had been selected fairly.

She said: “I would not want to take it otherwise. It’s not all about my ambition, it’s about doing a job that needs doing for the public.

“The first thing is, I’ve got a lot to learn and I feel ill-equipped to make very grand statements.

“I am conscious it’s not my money being spent, it’s public money being spent on behalf of council taxpayers for the benefit of those who need our services. It’s a responsible role and I’m looking forward to doing it to the best of my ability.”

Cllr Jones has so far not commented on the row.